Myer wins 16th straight zone volleyball crown
With a 3-0 (25-15, 25-8 and 25-14) victory over the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons last week, the A.N. Myer Marauders senior boys volleyball team won its 16th straight Niagara Region High School Athletic Association Zone 3 AAA championship.
“We always get a lot of athletes coming out for volleyball whether they are volleyball players, basketball players or soccer players,” said Joanne Thomson, who has been the long-time head coach of the team. “And we have a good junior program where they learn a lot of fundamentals and are really ready to go for the most part when they get to senior.”
Like all high schools, there were inherent challenges coming out of the pandemic pause.
“It was tough but we are lucky that we have four guys who play travel (volleyball) and have kind of played through the pandemic,” Thomson said. “Because some of them are seniors, at least they had their Grade 9 year of junior but it was tough getting them back together and all on the same page. Trying to get everybody to the same playing level was probably our biggest challenge.”
The Marauders went 6-0 in NRHSAA Zone 3 league play and then defeated the Greater Fort Erie Gryphons 3-0 (25-15, 25-8 and 25-14) in the zone final.
“We lost two sets during the season but it was pretty smooth sailing,” she said. “But Crossley gave us a good run. That was a really good game.”
Myer’s top player is junior national team trainee Nik Mitrovic.
“He is a great athlete and I have never had a player of that calibre before,” Thomson said. “I am always watching one on other teams and it is nice to finally have that.”
Mitrovic played senior in Grade 10 and was one of the best players on the team that year.
“He has come so far not just with his skill development but with his leadership and he is so coachable,” she said. “He kind of pulls everything together.”
The 16-year-old plays his club ball with the Mississauga Pakmen and the summer of 2021 was the second year he trained with the junior national team. It was online in 2020 but this summer he trained with the squad in British Columbia.
“It was absolutely amazing,” the six-foot-5 player said. “With the coaching and the level of volleyball, I just felt that I got way, way better playing there.”
The team was preparing for NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation) this coming winter but it doesn’t look that event will be held.
He loves playing volleyball for Myer.
“It’s just a lot of fun, it is also a place where I get a lot of reps and I can play with my friends and help them get better too,” Mitrovic said. “It is really awesome.”
He likes being another coach on the floor.
“It helps me become a better leader. A lot of them don’t play volleyball. They are just athletes and I get to help them learn how to play volleyball.”
At the end of this year, the Grade 12 student will decide which Canadian or American university becomes his volleyball home for the next four years.
“It is going to be where I feel most comfortable and where I can grow as a player and a person.”
Other key members of the team are club players Tyler Carmichael, Parker Melnick-Baldrey, Callum Fenwick and setter Jacob Lambert.
“He (Lambert) has come an incredible way since the start of the season and is all over the court,” Thomson said. “He plays soccer so he’s feisty and he gets everything.”
Myer will be competing at the Southern Ontario Secondary Schools Association championships Thursday at Ancaster Secondary School where the competition will be difficult. Anyone wanting to win the SOSSA crown will have to get past the Eden Flyers, the winners of 15 straight Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations at the AA level. The St. Catharines school is now competing at the AAA level because of an increase in its student population. There are two OFSAA spots available out of SOSSA this year.
“It is going to be a tough draw but I told the guys that we have to play the tough games,” Thomson said. “I think we can play with them.”
Mitrovic is looking forward to SOSSA.
“I am confident that we can come first,” he said. “I am hoping I can finish off my high school career with a SOSSA gold and maybe a medal at OFSAA.”
Other members of the championship team are Carter Fillingham, Dylan Heidebrecht, Joshua Holly, Donovin Ingribelli, Michael Ivanov, Jacob Lambert, Noah LeBrasseur and Ethan Orr.
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